Please forgive the silence around here - it's springtime, and that means our attention is needed more outside the house, and there's less time available to spend here at the blog. There is plenty going on, although it's been a week of mixed emotions.
Our second hatch of ducklings was small to start with - only six, which is a very small number for the prolific Muscovy ducks. We suspect that due to our unusually cold weather earlier in the season, some of the eggs may have frozen. We lost one of those six ducklings very early on - in the first couple of days. This is not unusual. The other five have been growing and thriving, and all was well until this week. Another one disappeared earlier in the week. I just found it this morning, inside the duck house, half-buried in the bedding. I don't have any idea what happened to the poor little guy. Betty has been sleeping outside with the babies at night, and we were worried that it had been taken by a predator - most likely a raccoon. Not wanting to risk any more of them, we closed them up inside the house last night for safety. Words cannot express the dismay I felt when I opened the door this morning and only one duckling came out. I searched inside the house, and all around the yard, and...nothing. Where did they go? What happened to them? I honestly don't know. My suspicion is that they wandered out through the wire enclosure during the night and were unable to get back in. Betty wouldn't have been able to go out after them, and they'd have been helpless in the grass. I feel beyond awful.
We've been expecting some bunnies as well. They were due to kindle around mid-week. I went out Wednesday afternoon to check on everyone and was excited to see that mama rabbit was inside the nest box! As I approached, however, something just didn't look right. The poor thing had died, presumably during labor. Two babies had been born, but were dead as well - the rest never made it out. I have no idea what happened here either, and between losing the rabbits and the ducklings, it has been a very dispiriting few days.
As usual, though, it hasn't been all bad. Our other duck is working on a new clutch of eggs, and we have another rabbit that's due to kindle in a couple of weeks. The garden is looking great - even the flagging beans are starting to rally - and the goats and chickens are producing in abundance. We processed the first half of the broiler chickens last weekend, and I could not be more pleased with the results. I'll write a full post on that soon. I know some of you have been awaiting a bee update, and I'll give that in a separate post as well. For now, I need to remind myself that weeks like this come along from time to time, but it's hard not to beat myself up. All I ever want is to do right by my animals - to give them a safe and happy life - and it crushes my spirit when I can't deliver even that.
**UPDATE** - I now know what happened to the ducklings. I just opened the duck house to find all the new eggs gone, and a snake (caught red-handed, I'll spare you the details). It has been dealt with, but I know there are more out there.